Monday 18 April 2022

Battersea Ironsides - Battersea Ironsides Sport & Social Club

Battersea Ironsides FC
Battersea Ironsides Sports Club
Burntwood Lane 
SW17 0AW

020 8874 9913 (sports club)

Ground Number: 1067
Monday 18th April 2022
Battersea Ironsides 0-1 Worcester Park
Surrey Premier County Football League


The Battersea Ironsides Sports Club itself was formed in 1943 by Colonel E.H. St. Maur Toope, from members of the Cadet Battalion, 42nd Royal Tank Regiment, located in the borough of Battersea. In 1948 the name was changed to Battersea Ironsides and the Club formally opened to other than RTR Cadets. The club helmet and crossed lances hark back to Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops, the Ironsides. The club colours originate from the RTR shoulder flash and motto “Through mud and blood to the green fields beyond”, brown, green, and red. White has been added and brown interpreted as black for fashion reasons. The football section of the club was established in 1983 and appears to have had some links with a team called Springfield Hospital in the past. The FCHD site has it down as a name change but the 1993 Non-League Directory denotes a merger in 1992 which seems more likely.

In any case, they were in the Surrey County Premier League at that point and were known as Springfield Battersea. In 1993, they dropped the reference to Springfield Hospital in their name, reverting to Battersea Ironsides. It was not a happy first season for the side with them finishing bottom and dropping out of the league. At some time, they joined the Surrey South East Combination League, winning it four times in a row between 2005 & 2008. Following their last win, they became founder members of the Surrey Elite Intermediate League which sits at step 7 of the non-league pyramid. They've finished as runners-up here on three occasions - to Epsom Eagles in 2010, to NPL in 2014, and to Horsley in 2015. The first and last of these must been especially galling as the eventual champions had been awarded three points due to unfulfilled fixtures. They've always been amongst the top teams, even in the two seasons that were abandoned due to the pandemic. This season, the league was renamed the Surrey Premier County Football League.

Battersea itself is a large district of London in the Borough of Wandsworth with a population of just over 73,000 and is most well known for Battersea Dogs & Cats home which in turn created the feelgood TV show Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs.  It is also famous for Battersea Power Station which is featured on the cover of the Pink Floyd album 'Animals'. Famous residents have included Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs, actor Johnny Briggs Buster Merryfield & Timothy Spall, singer Bob Geldof, comedian Harry Hill, and  Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon. The club itself is based in Earlsfield, with a population of just under 15,500 which is the birthplace of current London mayor Sadiq Khan. It has its own train station and is on several bus routes.


I always knew that I'd be completing the 92 on this day, watching AFC Wimbledon v Wycombe Wanderers. With it being Easter Monday, the game would be able to be doubled with a game in the Combined Counties or Surrey leagues. I fancied a revisit to Colliers Wood United but they had no home game. In the end, I settled for a game at Battersea Ironsides, a basic venue but at least it was their own sports club. The only downside was that there was nothing amazing on the pub front, especially for a real cider enthusiast like me. All the places where it was served (at least according to the WhatPub website) seemed a bit upmarket and based more on food than drink. I eventually settled on Tooting Wetherspoons, a revisit for me but conveniently located, also with reasonably priced food and drink.

I did the last bit of my research on Sunday, noticing that Battersea Ironsides last game of the season would be played at a local school and hoping that this game would not be the same. Usually, Sunday means a torrid time at work for me, dealing with the general public. In this case, though, it was just dull and mediocre, just like I remember it as a kid. There wasn't even Bullseye or All Clued Up on the TV like back then. I'd have loved a football game but I'd been to anything local. I was offered the chance to watch a ladies' game at Wem Town v Burton Albion but after doubles on Saturday and Monday, I was going to stay local if anything. I was sure to remain sober after a few boozy days previously and just lazed about before taking a walk in the afternoon whilst listening to the Non-League show on Three Counties Radio. It was during that walk that I decided on my Tuesday game  - a revisit to Holmer Green v Leverstock Green. I was going to go to a team called Rivets in Aylesbury but after learning that they were not the same side as the old works side that I'd seen briefly mentioned, I decided against it. I felt a bit better after watching the FA Cup Semi-Final which Chelsea won and a bit of dinner and was really looking forward to getting back to football.
The day of the game came and I woke up just after 6, well before my alarm. I did my usual morning routine of playing Wordle and adding pictures to my old games on Futbology. I got up at 6.40 and got ready, having Pringles for breakfast to save time. I left at 7.10 and had a pleasant walk down town whilst listening to some podcasts - 'The Offensive' and 'Quickly Kevin, will he score?'. I got the 08.34 train and was glad to see it was nice and quiet. The ticket cost me £18, up by 80p after the annual price hike but was still reasonable value. I was in London Marylebone just after 9 and it was all still fairly calm as I took the Bakerloo to Oxford Circus, the Victoria to Stockwell and the Northern to Tooting Broadway. From there, I had time to kill, having a couple of pints of Black Dragon and this gave me a mellowed feeling. JJ Moon's in Tooting was a tatty and small establishment but it offered a better selection than most Wetherspoons. It was doing a fair old trade at this early hour too with nearly every table occupied. I didn't fancy my chances of food later but I'd certainly be back for a pint. Or maybe not as I spotted a Lidl en route, a pleasant walk through hospital grounds and a housing estate. I arrived ten minutes before kick-off, the ground had a rail added since the last pictures I saw, well worth a visit.

Battersea Ironsides were 6th in the table but had lost their last two games - 3-2 to Staines Lammas and 2-1 to Spartans Youth. They'd also lost 3-2 to AFC Royal Holloway in recent times. For some reason, they'd had six home games in a row and this had allowed them to beat Farleigh Rovers 9-5, Hersham 5-1 and AFC Cubo 2-1. Worcester Park were 2nd and in with a real chance of overhauling Guildford United at the top. They'd won five games in a row, the latest one on Saturday when they'd won 3-1 at Farleigh Rovers. They'd also beaten AFC Walcountions 2-1, NPL 5-0, Ripley Village 3-0 and Horsley 4-1. Their last defeat had come on 12th March when they lost 1-0 to Staines Lammas.  I knew I'd chosen the right game. Worcester Park were in luminous pink and they dominated the early stages. The referee was great initially, when I said 'harsh' as he'd penalised a player for going beyond the pitch boundaries to allow an extra long throw, he replied that you wouldn't allow players to take a throw from the top stand at Wycombe which was a great reply and a good spot with me wearing my Wycombe shirt. Worcester Park's Joseph Blendell was sent off for something he said to the ref. The visitors missed a couple of fairly easy chances and the lineman judging the first half Worcester Park attacking end was taken off duty due to coaching his team and making some contentious decisions. The referee had a moan at halftime about me taking photos as he had been in the background of the dressing room and said he would sue me under the data protection act if I put them online. In fact, he had just got in the way and these were deleted. Maybe it was his desire to be in charge that led to Battersea Ironsides' Jahseph Forrester flaring up and taking a swing at an opponent after a foul and this led to handbags with the fans getting involved too.  The game continued in a fractious manner and I was hoping for a goal. I got my wish, Worcester Park taking the lead on the break, a looping header from David Bonsu.

It was probably deserved and a decent amount of the 25 in attendance went home happy. I'd met some great people from both sides there and it was a good old battle.. After a while to reflect as I did have with me seeing a game in between, I still don't know what to make of this mad game. It started off fairly calmly with Worcester Park on top but not really threatening. A couple of challenges went in and as the referee Mr Ingram took very decisive action, it turned the heat up a bit. He wouldn't take any backchat and this inflamed the situation, with fault on all sides. This led to a big old round of handbags, punches thrown, hugely fun to watch but not really conducive to good football. After this was all over, Mr Ingram did well to get things started again, as much as an abandoned match would have been something to write about, I'd much rather have a result. Whether a different refereeing approach would have yielded different results, I don't know. There was an assessor there and the general consensus was that the mark should be around 6/10, a fair representation of a tricky game to referee. Whatever, it was a good game to watch and I want to see more games in the league.


BATTERSEA IRONSIDES SPORTS & SOCIAL CLUB is a hub for multiple sports and the clubhouse is the focal point although it appeared closed on my visit. The whole place was well-kept and the football pitch had seen some improvements since other hoppers had visited. It was railed along one side and his was the only side it was practical to stand. It was still a good venue though. Nearby facilities include Earlsfield Station and bus routes (5 minutes) and Tooting station and centre (20 minutes). Overall, well worth a visit in my opinion.

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